Oh, Those OUGH Words!

The phonogram OUGH is one of the toughest in the English language, with at least six different pronunciations.

Although (long o) I ate when I was through (ew) ploughing (ow) the garden, the meat I bought (short o) was so tough (short u) it made me cough (short o).

In some words:

  1. ough = ow (gh is silent): plough, bough, drought.
  2. ough = ō (gh is silent): dough, although, thorough.
  3. ough = ŏ (gh = /f/): cough, trough
  4. ough = ŏ (gh is silent): ought, bought, fought, brought, sought, thought.
  5. ough = ŭ (gh = /f/): rough, tough, enough.
  6. In the word “through,” ough = ū (gh is silent)

Practice OUGH words at Quizlet, and highlight the OUGH words in the sentences at BBC Bitesize.  Watch the video below from the “I Love Lucy” show.

When we learn about diphthongs, the main sound of OU is OW, but it can vary, as seen in these OUGH words. A few more ways that OU can vary are seen in the Nessy Reading Strategy video on OU and in the sentence below.

I thought (short o) our (ow-r) chicken soup (long u) for the young (short u) soul (long o) could (oo) be about (ow) cool enough (short u) to pour (long o-r).

A worksheet for Oh, Those OUGH words! is available at the Super Tutor Tools store at Teachers Pay Teachers.

Learn more about the Phonics Pow Toolkit, how to get free word sort games and more free resources.

Author: dailyplanit

I am fascinated by the process of learning to read English and the idea of gamification to make learning fun. Phonics and literacy have become my passion project. I also write about personal development, goal setting, and time management. I enjoy finding great information, combining it in new ways, and packaging it creatively.